Senate Rejects Competing Proposals To End Government Shutdown

The Senate rejected Republican and Democratic proposals as expected but there are some signs of movement forward.

As expected, the Senate has rejected two competing proposals to end the government shutdown, thus leaving Congress and the Trump Administration back where we started as 800,000 Federal workers stand to go another pay period without a paycheck and one-third of the government remains shut down:

WASHINGTON — A Democratic plan to reopen the government without money for President Trump’s border wall failed in the Senate on Thursday, sending lawmakers back to the drawing board to forge a compromise that could end the stalemate and bring about a quick resolution to a partial shutdown now nearing its sixth week.

A half dozen Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for the measure, but the tally still fell short of the 60 votes it needed to advance, 52-44. The defeated measure is similar to one the Senate approved unanimously in December, only to see Mr. Trump reject it and the House cancel a planned vote on it. Republican views in the Senate have shifted dramatically since then to reflect the president’s.

The action came just after Mr. Trump’s own proposal to reopen the government and devote $5.7 billion to his border wall failed on a similar near-party-line vote that underlined the depth of the divide. That measure paired wall funding with temporary legal protections for some immigrants and measures to make it more difficult to claim asylum in the United States.

The back-to-back votes illustrated the gulf between Mr. Trump and Democrats in the ongoing shutdown saga. But lawmakers and aides in both parties expressed hope that the double-barreled losses will break the logjam that has gripped Washington since the partial shutdown began Dec. 22 and force the two sides to come up with an alternative that both can support.

“Is this the beginning of the end, or is it just the end of the beginning? We shall find out,” said Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama.

House Democrats are discussing a proposal to spend as much as $5.2 billion on what they are calling a “smart wall” with drones, sensors, some additional fencing, but no wall from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico.

The urgency is mounting. Friday marks the second consecutive payday this month when 800,000 federal workers will miss a paycheck as a result of the shutdown.

Mr. Trump’s plan was loosely modeled after an idea that was the centerpiece of quiet bipartisan talks to strike a compromise over the past several weeks to end the shutdown. Among the ideas discussed was legislation that would pair border security money with permanent legal status for Dreamers, the undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children who stand to lose their deportation protections and work permits after Mr. Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, created by President Barack Obama in 2012.

While it included some of those components, the measure that failed on Thursday was dismissed as a nonstarter by Democratic leaders because it substantially narrowed DACA eligibility, and extends it for only three years, while making major changes to asylum law that would make it harder for migrants fleeing violence and persecution to find refuge in the United States. It would also extend three-year reprieves for those living in the United States under Temporary Protected Status — granted in times of conflict or natural disaster — who stand to be removed after Mr. Trump ended their protections.

More from Politico:

The Senate blocked two proposals on Thursday to reopen the government, but amid the ongoing stalemate, there’s some hope that Washington might be inching closer toward ending a shutdown now on its 34th day.

In a 52-44 vote, the Senate rejected House-backed legislation that would fund the government through February 8. The Senate, ina 50-47 vote, blocked legislation endorsed by President Donald Trump that provided $5.7 billion for his border wall and granted temporary protection for some undocumented immigrants.

The bills were expected to fail.

Six Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Mitt Romney of Utah and Johnny Isakson of Georgia joined Democrats to vote in favor of the continuing resolution.

“I’ve said all along we should fund border security, keep the government open,” Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) said prior to the vote. “We can walk and chew gum at the same time.” He added that Coloradans “don’t understand why Congress can’t get its job done.”

When asked about the Republican defections on the continuing resolution bill, Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said that members are “frustrated and want to do everything they can do move the process forward.”

The dueling votes marked the first time the Senate has formally moved on government funding since the shutdown began. And senators this week signaled a note of optimism, saying that even though Thursday’s bills were going to fail, they at least represented movement and possibly the start of negotiations to end the shutdown.

“I think it certainly puts everybody on record, and if nothing else I would hope at least that this would get the conversation going again,” Thune said.

About 20 dozen House Democrats marched over to the Senate during the vote in an unsuccessful effort to pressure Republicans to back to the clean spending bill.

House Democrats are also preparing a counteroffer of sorts to Trump that reportedly would provide at least $5 billion in border security, but no new funding for the wall. Democrats on Thursday, however, were tightlipped leaving a planning meeting in Pelosi’s office and refused to detail what level of border funding will be in the proposal or how far-reaching it is.

The proposal, set to be made public Friday, suggests pressure is mounting to find a solution to the impasse. Earlier this week, a group of centrist House Democrats drafted a letter to Pelosi asking that she give Trump a vote on his border wall or a border security package in exchange for re-opening the government. The Democrat-controlled House has also repeatedly passed legislation to re-open the government — most recently a spending bill Thursday to re-open the Department of Homeland Security.

Some House Democrats have privately dismissed the DHS proposal as a messaging document meant to ease their rank-and-file’s frustrations with the prolonged stalemate. But House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Thursday he’s confident the Democratic counteroffer will be a starting point for serious talks with the president once the government is reopened.

“I maintain hope that people will come to their senses real soon. And I’m very confident that the proposals we’re putting forward will gain traction and will become a significant part of whatever the negotiations are going forward,” Clyburn said. “We won’t get 100 percent of what we want and we want the president to understand he won’t get 100 percent of what he wants.”

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said Thursday that part of the reason is Democrats haven’t decided how to present the offer – whether just to roll out a DHS bill or send Trump an accompanying letter outlining what exactly they will support on the border.

“The letter is still a work in progress. As to what format it will be, we’re not sure. It could be that or it could be another format,” Thompson told reporters.

You can check the roll call votes on the Trump proposal and the Democratic proposal at the respective links and, other than the fact that there were a handful of crossover votes for each measure by Senate Republicans, the vote turned out about as expected. On the Trump bill, for example, both Senators Mike Lee and Tom Cotton voted with Senate Democrats in opposition to the Cloture Motion while Senator Joe Manchin voted in favor of cloture. On the Democratic proposal, as noted above, six Republicans voted in favor of the Democratic proposal, including newly elected Republican Senator from Utah Mitt Romney as well as Republicans such as Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Lamar Alexander, Johnny Isakson, and Cory Gardner. In both cases, of course, the crossover votes were insufficient in that the Trump proposal would have needed ten more Democrats to support it, while the Democratic proposal would have needed eight more Republicans.

What happens next is somewhat up in the air. As I noted earlier, the Democrats in the House are preparing their own proposal that is purported to include $5.7 billion in funding for border security, although not for the President’s wall. That proposal is expected to be released tomorrow. In the meantime, shortly after the Senate vote, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders put forward the following statement on Twitter:

And Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted this:

There’s no word what the White House means by “large down payment,” but it implies that it would be something more than symbolic funding but perhaps something less than the $5.7 billion that the President has been demanding until now. The idea of a three-week Continuing Resolution among Republicans has been circulating for several days now, apparently, and has gained new life after the defeat Whether anything comes of this, or of the Democratic proposal that will be released tomorrow, is something only time will tell but at the very least its clear that the shutdown won’t be solved today, and probably not this week. But maybe, just maybe, we’re near the end of the beginning of this ordeal.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Congress, Deficit and Debt, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. Ben Wolf says:

    Elizabeth Warren proposes the Ultra-Millionaire tax on assets over $50 million. Where’s Kamala? Where’s Beetle O’Dork? Where’s the immigrant basher from New York?

    Golly Gee

    Will there ever be?

    A Right-wing Democrat who works for thee?

  2. Jay L Gischer says:

    A three-week CR doesn’t sound like the end of this to me. It doesn’t sound like much of anything, honestly.

    I continue to support Speaker Pelosi and her “no negotiations with hostage-takers” stance.

  3. James Pearce says:

    CNN says Trump is preparing a national emergency proclamation that has $7 billion in funds.

  4. CSK says:

    @James Pearce:

    Well, I have to ask: Why is this suddenly a national emergency when it hasn’t been for the past two years?

  5. Kathy says:


    And I will repeat: What kind of emergency requires a remedy which will take a decade to build?

    Maybe if Dennison gets it through his head the wall won’t be complete by the time he leaves office, he’ll lose interest in it? One can hope.

  6. James Pearce says:

    @CSK: It’s politics, not beanbag. There’s no more national emergency anymore than there are security issues around the SOTU. This is why you should be pushing for a compromise rather than partisan shenanigans.

  7. mattbernius says:

    @James Pearce:
    Conter perspective. If we follow your line of thought that “Trump screws everything up… that’s why the Democrats should have just given him what he wanted from the start”, a national emergency is a win in the “long game.”

    1. As mentioned before, it’s going to be delayed by the courts. He will probably get some small section of the wall built, but little to nothing is going to get done.

    2. It’s going to further split his support among Republicans — many have already gone on record as opposing this for no other reason than breaking this norm will enable a future Democrat to take similar action on something like Climate Change or another liberal issue.

    3. It’s going to weaken his already bad relationship with Republicans in the Senate, in particular vulnerable ones in 2020, and his crappy relationship with McConnell (who he just put through hell and got no party win out of it). BTW, already he just watched 6 members of Senate Republicans cross party lines to vote against him…

    4. It’s also going to further split his support among Republicans because he essentially got nothing for shutting down the government and ended up being owned by the Democrats.

    5. It’s also setting up the fact that he’s not going to move the Democrats on a Debt Ceiling fight (which is also coming up). Or he can choose to go over that cliff and really doom his presidency. But either way, he is the one who everyone knows blinked in his first confrontation with organized opposition from the other party.

    6. Perhaps best for the nation, it might finally force bipartisan action to fix a really, really bad law. And that’s a long term win for good governance.

    7. It’s also going to further galvanize the Democratic base and turn independents away. Which matters a lot when we consider that Trump’s electoral college win came down to 80,000 votes.

    So, yeah, in terms of ultimately undoing Trump, this will be a win. Not a clean one, but like you said, this isn’t bean bag.

  8. mattbernius says:

    Oops… forgot 5a… there’s a not insignificant portion of Trump’s base who also know he blinked and lost to a Democrat and a female one at that.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce: Sucks to be him.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    It’s politics, not beanbag.

    You silly fuck. You think because he declares it to be an emergency (after removing all the troops from the border) it is? Any declaration of emergency is going to be locked up in the courts for years.

  11. grumpy realist says:

    @James Pearce: Unfortunately, Trump’s idea of “compromise” is “give me everything I want.”

    Someone has to teach him not to act like a toddler.

  12. Kathy says:


    The emergency might be that Democrats have taken the House, and Dennison urgently needs a legislative win to show his base he can triumph over the enemy.

  13. An Interested Party says:

    It’s politics, not beanbag.

    Oh that’s rich coming from someone who regularly blasts the Democrats for supposedly playing politics all the time…I suppose only Trump can be the tough guy and the Democrats should simply be supplicants…

    This is why you should be pushing for a compromise rather than partisan shenanigans.

    Yes, it’s “partisan shenanigans” not to give in to a childish bully who will use the same tactics in the future if he succeeds with using them this time…you don’t seem to understand this whole politics thing…

  14. Mister Bluster says:

    If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other, whether it’s through you, through military, through anything you want to call, I will shut down the government,” Trump said. “And I am proud. I’ll tell you what. I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck. Because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down, it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down. I’m going to shut it down for border security.”

    Hard to believe but this is the same Donald Trump who just days later said:

    The Democrats now own the shutdown!

    Even my long lost cousin Mr. Magoo can see that if shutting down any part of the government gets the fear monger Supreme Leader and REPUBLICAN Pervert in Chief Donald Trump even a smidgen of what he wants he will do it again!

    What will it be next?
    Pandering to his racist base the Ku Klux Klan and the White Power American Nazis?
    Oh wait. He’s already doing that.

  15. Teve says:

    Even my long lost cousin Mr. Magoo can see that if shutting down any part of the government gets the fear monger Supreme Leader and REPUBLICAN Pervert in Chief Donald Trump even a smidgen of what he wants he will do it again!

    we have another debt ceiling raise in a few months. Anyone who thinks the proper message to send to Trump right now is that he can have whatever he wants, and all he has to do is hurt a few million Americans for a few months to get it, would improve the world by winning a Darwin Award.

  16. James Pearce says:


    a national emergency is a win in the “long game.”

    I’m wary of that being described as a “win,” especially if what constitutes a “loss” would be some “border security” money, not all of it misspent. (I mean, I’d support increasing medical care or throwing in a few bucks to make sure they get all the kids back to their rightful parents.) Trump thinks he’s throwing a bone to the base, but his base either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that “the wall” is a gag policy dreamed up as part of a plan to exploit them.

    The “long game” victory, uncertain and perilous, may eventually come but there will still be that white nationalist sentiment that refuses to accept that the United States is, in fact, part of Latin America. Denied their wall, they’ll want some other method and they’ll latch onto any old cretin who will promise it to them.

    That’s why I think they should be given their wall. Let the businessman brag about building it. Let it do little more than provide shade. On this one, success will provide the failure.

    (And meanwhile, we could remove Spanish from the “foreign language” curriculum and move it over into the “language arts” side of the house.)

    BTW, already he just watched 6 members of Senate Republicans cross party lines to vote against him…

    Not to be a downer, but once again this highlights how losing seats in the Senate really hurt.

  17. DrDaveT says:

    Just to remind people who is actually getting hurt here, I offer a snippet from the Thrift Savings Plan fact sheet “Effect of Nonpay Status on Your TSP Account”, regarding people who have taken out loans against their 401k plans:

    What happens if my furlough exceeds 30 days?
    The Internal Revenue Code (IRC) requires that TSP loans be repaid in level payments (IRC § 72(p)(2)(C)). Payment through regular payroll deductions satisfies this requirement.
    If your loan is not repaid in level payments, the IRC requires the TSP to declare a taxable distribution. (Important: See the beginning of this section for more on
    taxable distributions.) Therefore, you must be very sure that your furlough will last 30 days or less when you sign your Loan Agreement, or be prepared to make regular loan
    payments from your own funds
    , because you could face severe tax consequences if the furlough lasts longer.

    (Note that “The Internal Revenue Code” is not written by the IRS; it’s a shorthand for the collection of legislation pertaining to tax matters that Congress writes and leaves to the IRS to administer.)

  18. An Interested Party says:

    Not to be a downer, but once again this highlights how losing seats in the Senate really hurt.

    Would anyone…anyone at all care to explain how the Democrats could of gained any seats when they were defending 26 seats while Republicans were defending 9 seats? Thanks…

  19. gVOR08 says:

    I note that in the quoted articles NYT was careful to explain the vote on the D bill was 52 for, 44 against, failing to meet the supermajority 60 vote requirement, while POLITICO just reported it failed 52 to 44, leaving a casual reader, i.e. almost all readers, to assume it was 52 against. This very common lazy reporting is kind of a pet peeve.

  20. Kylopod says:

    @James Pearce:

    That’s why I think they should be given their wall.

    Or, in the words of C3PO, “Surrender is a perfectly acceptable alternative in extreme circumstances. The Empire will be gracious enough…” [Leia turns him off]

  21. Tyrell says:

    There are some ways around this situation, but these require common sense thinking. One is to do like many states do. Continue with the current budget until a new one is adopted. The other is to form an independent committee that would arbitrate the proposals and come up with a budget that everyone likes, and they must agree to their proposal. The committee would be made up of the common people, not politicians. The problems start when politicians get in the act.
    The whole Federal government needs reform. It could start with eliminating some of the unneeded, outdated, and overlapping agencies and programs*.
    See: “Top ten obsolete government programs” (Heritage Foundation)
    Federal Tricycle Safety Bureau The Office of Civil War Veterans Benefits
    “The Carterization of the Federal Government” (Washington Post) President Carter’s groundbreaking ideas to reform government

  22. Teve says:
  23. Teve says:

    new Florida GOP Secretary of State resigns after photos emerge of him in blackface making fun of hurricane Katrina victims.

    it’s just a gosh darn mystery why people keep thinking Republicans are racist. A real puzzler.

  24. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Pearce:

    If a thief demands your wallet, giving him half is not a compromise, it is a capitulation.

  25. Teve says:

    I’m seeing some conspiratorial speculation on Twitter like oh, well, Trump is just doing the shutdown to distract from blah blah blah, and Mitch just had to vote today to distract from something or other, and make the Dems such and such, like these actions are all part of some clever scheme.

    Some of these people have never heard of hanlon’s razor.

    As for me, when I see the bumbling White House, and the bumbling Republicans in the Senate, it just reminds me of that great line Deep Throat says in ‘all the presidents men’.

    “Look, forget the myths the media’s created about the White House. The truth is, these are not very bright guys…and things got out of hand.”

  26. Teve says:

    If I were a drug smuggler needing to corrupt some federal employees into looking the other way at ports and borders, a situation where many thousands of them were suddenly a few grand in the red on their mortgages, rents, car payments, insurance bills, would be fuckin Christmas for me.

  27. Teve says:

    Roger stone just got got by Bobby three sticks.

  28. KM says:

    If Trump tries the “national emergency” shtick I think he might have to start worrying about Senators lurking in doorways a la Julius Caesar. He will have screwed them over hard by putting them in an even worse position then before *and* potentially setting a precedent the next Dem President could run with and get a hell of a lot more done. As noted above, Wall will be stuck in the courts for years on eminent domain alone but a smart Dem would be able to declare a “national emergency” about healthcare or climate change to bypass Congress and get some real movement before they get shut down by the SC.

    A GOP that lets Trump call for a spurious emergency is a GOP that’s slitting their throat in the future. Trump has in a worst case scenario 8 more years of power but they will continue on for the indifferent future. Imagine a future with President Harris or Ocasio-Cortez being challenged by Congress and calmly stating a national emergency is in the works if they don’t comply – you think that’s something the GOP wants to deal with?

  29. Kylopod says:


    Imagine a future with President Harris or Ocasio-Cortez being challenged by Congress and calmly stating a national emergency is in the works if they don’t comply

    I’ve been hearing versions of that argument from conservative pundits over the past few weeks, but it assumes Dems would be as indifferent or hostile to democratic norms as Trump. If Trump goes forward with this, I think most Dems will simply see it as the point when Trump truly descended into authoritarianism, not the beginning of a useful precedent. Maybe AOC would see it differently, but I doubt Harris would.

  30. KM says:

    @Kylopod :
    The funny thing about a norm is it’s flexibility. Norms are based on precedent and agreed upon ideals /values. That’s why norms change and why liberals are so upset: he’s violating the agreed-upon terms. Now, if it comes to pass that this gets accepted by the GOP and nearly half of the country, we need to understand that that’s the new norm now…. and give them exactly what they’ve just agreed to. Don’t change a norm you don’t want to be on the wrong side of…..

    I should note I’m not really the turn-the-other-cheek kind of soul and will gladly repay evil with evil in certain circumstances. I think repubs hiding being norms we won’t violating in turn means they can snipe us at will, knowing we won’t retaliate. Kinda like a woman going around slugging guys, comfortable in the fact that “men don’t hit women” and she can get away with violence unchecked…. until the guy that says screw it and punches her out. Did he violate a norm? Yep but it was in self-defense and there’s little likelihood it will be a repeating pattern.

    Norms shouldn’t be used to abuse the segment of the population that thinks they are a good idea.

  31. Tyrell says:

    Most recent presidents have talked about, supported, and planned some sort of government reform. There are many agencies that can be eliminated. The budget process should not be this way: it should like what many of the states do. A balanced budget amendment would help. The bureaucracies have too much power: they write their own rules and are not subject to accountability. The government should be run like a business.
    How many officials have heard of or are even aware of the NRO?

  32. KM says:


    The government should be run like a business.

    The government is *currently* being run like a business – specifically, it’s being run by a businessman who thinks he can do whatever he want and trash the place while grabbing as much grift as he can on the way out.

    Businesses can screw the working man, take everything they have and skip off to the Caymans if they please at moment’s notice. Businesses can be shut down for any number of reasons including financial, governments shouldn’t. If you are in favor of our current dysfunction, then by all means keep pushing for being run like a business. This is what you want.

  33. James Pearce says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    If a thief demands your wallet, giving him half is not a compromise, it is a capitulation.

    What a terrible metaphor. Is Trump the thief? Is the wall money your wallet?

    If a thief demanded your wallet or your life, you’d give him your damn wallet, because if you’re still alive, you can buy a new wallet.

  34. KM says:

    @James Pearce:

    Is Trump the thief? Is the wall money your wallet?

    Yes and yes. Trump’s trying to circumvent the voted-upon bill that contained no wall money for extra cash. He bypassed the whole process and went straight to hostage-holding to get his demands met. That cash isn’t coming from Mexico but from the paychecks of American taxpayers.

    If a thief demanded your wallet or your life, you’d give him your damn wallet, because if you’re still alive, you can buy a new wallet.

    True but then we also expect that thief to be arrested for his crime. If Trump’s essentially jacking the American public for his vanity project, shouldn’t we expect him to be treated the same?

  35. Mikey says:

    Apparently the shutdown is over, or will be soon. Three week CR, no wall money, open the government and then address border security. Pelosi and Schumer win, again.

    Lawmakers, Trump reach tentative deal to temporarily reopen government

    Congressional leaders and President Trump have reached a tentative deal to temporarily reopen the government and continue talks on Trump’s demand for border wall money, Capitol Hill officials said Friday.

    With Trump’s approval, the pact would reopen shuttered government departments for the three weeks while leaving the issue of $5.7 billion for the U.S.-Mexico border wall to further talks.

  36. DrDaveT says:


    The government should be run like a business.

    Sorry, but that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. The worst possible thing for America would be for it to be run “like a business”. Like a business would mean:
    1. Solely for the benefit of the owners
    2. For profit
    3. Only as long as it was profitable
    4. Choosing only to do things that make money

    The list goes on. People who say that government should be run like business are either idiots, or con men.